The Parable of the Sower


Taken from Mark 4:1-20. (The Scripture is intentionally not read for the purpose of having the listeners listen as opposed to simply reading. The bulk of this message/exercise is taken from Mark Snowden’s “Familytime Devotionals” and his book Truth that Sticks.)


GET READY: In the previous story, Jesus had begun to call several men to follow Him, including the four disciples in that story. Not too long afterward, Jesus chose twelve men as His disciples. They were closest to him, traveling with Him, and learning from Him. As Jesus’ earthly ministry progressed, He began teaching. Jesus told many short, simple stories, but each one would teach a profound, important truth. These stories were called parables. If the disciples didn’t understand, He would take them aside and teach them the truth. As the story is told, think about these questions:

ü What was the parable that Jesus taught?

ü What did Jesus teach His disciples about the parable?

This is the Parable of the Sower.


One day, Jesus went with His followers out by the lake, which is called the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd gathered around Him and it was so large that He got into a boat that was there at the shore and pushed out a bit into the water so that He could teach the people more easily. He taught them many things using parables. Now Jesus said,

“There was a farmer who went out to sow some seed. As he was scattering the seeds, some of them fell along the path and the birds came and they ate it up. And some of the seeds fell on rocky places where it didn’t have much soil. Oh, it sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow, but when the sun came up the plants dried up. They withered because the plants roots had shallow soil. Other seed fell among the thorns, which grew up and choked the good plants so that they didn’t bear a harvest. But some of the other seed fell on the good soil. It came up and it grew and produced a very good harvest, multiplying up to thirty, sixty, even a hundred times more than that what had been sown.

And Jesus said to the people, “Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Later when He was alone with the Twelve and some other who were with them, too, they asked Jesus what this parable had meant. Jesus said, “Don’t you understand the parable? How are you going to understand any parable if you don’t understand this one? But it’s true what the prophet Isaiah said that people will look and not see and listen, but not understand otherwise they’d repent and be saved.”

“The seeds represent the Message of God that people receive in their hearts. Some people are like the seeds along the path; they receive the Word but as soon as they hear it, Satan snatches it before it can grow.

“Some people are like seeds sown on rocky places. They hear the Word and they receive it with joy at first, but since there is no depth or root they last only a short time. Whenever trouble or persecution comes because of the Word, they quickly fall away.

 “Some people are like the seed that was sown among the thorns. They hear the Word and it takes root in their lives. It grows up in their lives, but before it can reach maturity, they get distracted by the cares of this world and chasing wealth and the desire for other things. They just never bear fruit for the kingdom.”

“Other people are like the seeds that are sown on the good soil. They hear the Word. They receive the Word and they bear a wonderful crop, some 30, 60 and even 100 times what was sown.”

That is the story from God’s Word.

DISCUSSION TIME (the congregation is broken up into five groups; each group has the discussion questions): Let’s talk about the story.

· When the farmer was sowing, some of the seeds fell along the path. What did the birds do with the seeds?

· When some of the seeds fell on rocky places and quickly sprang up, what happened when the hot sun came out?

· What happened when some of seeds fell among thorns?

· What happened when some seeds fell on good soil?

· Did Jesus later explain the truth of this parable to His disciples?

· Does Satan come and take away the Word of God from some people if they let him?

· Do some people hear with joy the Word of God, but let it go when trouble or persecution comes?

· Do some people hear the Word of God, but forget it as they begin to think about their cares and desires for wealth and other things?

· Do some people hear the Word of God and let it enrich and grow abundantly in their life?

· Do you want to keep the Word of God in your life? What are some things that might happen to cause you to forget God’s Word? What are some things you can do to keep God’s Word in your life?

WRAP UP: Why do we use this format today?


  1. Ephesians 4:11,12 The purpose of the church gatherings is not to preach the gospel because it is the gathering of those who have already made a profession of faith and were baptized by immersion. It is to equip the saints for their own work of ministry.
  2. To be equipped we must remember what we learned. However, through traditional preaching no one remembers what was taught! (Traditional preaching still has value, especially as a resource for those who read and write well.)
  3. There is a high degree of illiteracy even in the U.S.
  4. People remember stories.
  5. This is the way Jesus taught most often!
  6. People can retell stories far easier than re-teaching a (comparatively) complex sermon.
  7. Tell this story to:
  1. your family this week.
  2. To one other Christian this week
  3. To one non-Christian this week
  4. Next Sunday to the church! (volunteer only and no questions will be asked. It will just be telling the story.)